Bodies…Or Lack of Really

Another road trip with work to the north of the island led me past the scene of an extremely important find.

Picture the scene… 12th May 1951. Two men were cutting a new peat bank and came across some human remains at a depth of 75cm or roughly 3 feet down. Police were called and thankfully it wasn’t an ‘orrible murder but something historical and very interesting indeed.

What they had come across was a burial from the 17th Century. By the time they found him there was nothing left but his finger and toe nails, some hair and a few fragments of bone. His clothing and personal effects however were pretty much intact.

His purse still held three coins (1 Dutch and 2Swedish). One of the coins had the date 1690 and his clothing was of a style typical of the 17th century.

The reconstruction of his clothing looked like this…

His grave location was marked by the men who erected a large stone…

I think it was the one above as the sign wasn’t that specific…

It was common practice up here to simply bury someone who was found up on the hill, a shallow grave was dug away from any peat workings if the body was unrecognised. This was especially the case if the body had been there a while.There are no records of this man being buried or no folk memories either so this could possibly be the case. Hypothermia or some illness could have caused him to die between townships. Was it murder, although there is no evidence on the clothing and the fact that there were coins in his purse, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t. He may have had pack ponies with him with valuable goods in… we never can tell. One theory I have heard was that he might have been out collecting rents from the various crofting communities… who knows?

It is a bit sad to think that this man one day simply disappeared, potentially leaving family and friends to wonder why he never came back.

So there you go… the Gunnister man… an extremely important archaeological and historical find.

Next time we will look at some geographical history, or potentially historical geography…


Off Gallivanting II

Today we did a recce of the WW2 town defences of Lerwick. By all accounts these are the best preserved in the UK… which is pretty cool.

We just looked at the mid area defences and not the outer ring, the inner ring has pretty much gone due to houses etc. This lot are also up for destruction as Lerwick expands up onto Staney Hill.

Now to the photos.. a view from and of one of the observation posts…

The view out of the slit is off the South end of the harbour, the land beyond the sea on the left is the island of Bressay. The green lump jutting out to the sea is where the main seaward battery sat.

Some lumps and bumps, I am not sure what this is as it has a couple of bunkers/ pits and connecting trenches. It could be a mortar pit with ammunition bunker or I could be talking bollocks… A lot of this section of defences are sitting under those houses… just below them are a pretty well preserved section of tank traps.

Random shots of trenches and bunkers next. The last faces inwards and not towards the potential attack direction, this was deliberate as enemy forces were expected to make for the gaps in the hills and there they would be caught by enfilade fire from both flanks…

In the field below the track there are a host more bunkers and trenches and one of the three spigot mortar positions we have found.

This last photo is taken from another bunker towards more tank traps

This is just scratching the surface of what is up on the hills or down towards the town. I might try and get along to the gun positions at the south end. The north end guns were knocked down and an industrial park built over them. The blue building in the distance is somewhere near where they were.

Off Galivanting

Today was the last day of our Easter Holidays…

for some reason Shetland has the school Easter holidays at a set time this means we go back on Monday, w3 are back a week then off for Easter Monday…🤨

My little boy is over the chicken pox and my good lady is over her lurgy and off work so off we went on a mini road trip, involving two ferries.

First stop was the reconstructed Viking Longhouse on the Island if Unst…

There is also a full size reconstruction of the Gockstadt longship. A bit of a long story, but basically it sailed from Norway, got as far as Shetland and never got any further…

A bit more Viking Shenanigans took place with a visit to an original Viking longhouse. This one is a bit of a do-upper. It was built before 1100ad

This appeared due to coastal erosion. Over the last 900 years the sea has worked its way inland and something that was on good farmland is now nearly in the sea.

We then went decidedly modern by visiting Muness Castle. This was built in 1598

It is more of a tower house really, but it was involved in a bit of a fracas with Earl Stewart who built Scalloway Castle (both had the same architect!)

Holes for firearms are everywhere…

The kids enjoyed exploring with the supplied torches…

All in all a good day.

On the hobby front I started printing off the dropship as well as meeting a Facebook Challenge of 30 minutes painting a day for 50 days… we will see how that pans out…

Dressy Up for Grown UPS…

Working with one of the schools on Vikings.

Had a great day, but I am knackered now. I had three one hour long groups. They were great kids who knew a fair bit before I got there. It is really funny though, how they confuse the Up Helly Aa guisers with Vikings. I was chastised by one small boy for not wearing a sheepskin and not having any furry boots 😱.

To save time getting there I drove down in my soft kit 😁

Dark Future…Motorcycle’s Finished

Managed to get these finished today…

My little boy turns 8 tomorrow but as it is a school day we had presents and birthday meal today. I am surprised I managed to do anything. Full of food and been out in the fresh air… absolutely zonked out!

I also glued the rocket launchers onto the interceptor and gave them a quick coat of blue.

My eldest made a chocolate layer birthday cake, but actually used my rotating cake stand for an actual cake. That is a first, it is normally used for airbrushing stuff!

It was an extremely yummy cake, so I might just let her off (well she did ask to use it).

This afternoon’s shenanigans were once again in glorious weather.

The woods looked amazing with the late afternoon sun coming through the trees.

And then there was a great sunset as we were driving around killing time before going to Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop (one of the best, if not the best in Scotland – well they have won so many awards now I can’t remember where they stand).

Tomorrow I will have a think about what colour asphalt to do for the bikes.


Tingaholm rising out of the mist on Tingwall loch this morning.

Tingaholm was the site of Shetland’s local parliament until the late 16th century. It was once an islet accessed by a stone causeway, by 1774 the stone seats had been ripped up to provide grazing space and in the mid 19th century the water levels in the loch were lowered, and the holm has appeared the same ever since.

Pinched from my Wife’s post on Archaeology Shetland.

Star Forts, Chips and an Annoying Fledgling

Another mooch about yesterday. Last day of my holiday and I had to be in work. As it is the holidays I had to drag the kids in too.

So instead of haring back home for sandwiches we headed further into town for Lunch. All the cafes were full so we headed for the Fort Chip Shop (the best one in Lerwick). Our normal place to eat them on a nice day is the Fort right above the chip shop so I thought I would take some photos.

This is the oldest part still standing built or rebuilt in the 1690’s. The following photo showing how thick the walls are.

Construction of Fort Charlotte began in 1665 during the second Dutch War. It wasn’t finished before the war concluded. It was rebuilt more than a century later during the War of American Independence but never fired a shot in anger. The fort is pretty much presented as it would have looked in the 1780’s

The fort is a 5 pointed star.

At the minute she is armed with 18lb cannon. These only look out over the sound of Bressay. It had in the past been armed with 32lb cannon

I always fancied starting a re-enactment group here, it would be great fun!

Anyway the Annoying Fledgling…. here he is:

He spent his time calling for food non stop while we were there. On the upside though, he kept the adults away!

Right a couple of random photos taken within… the barracks and the magazine.

And finally a view from above… pinched from a panel at the entrance!

You can just see the best chip shop in Lerwick, small white building near the two story street of shops. Oh and in the background you can see the Lerwick Town hall.

There is a great story from the 1690’s about how 3 cannon from the Spanish Armanda were found. They decided to heat them to remove the rust. ‘ Upon which they discharged balls, much to the surprisement of the onlookers!”

I think Surprisement should be returned to the English language!

Drummers, civilians,off gallivanting and a leather shoe.

Well I managed to get the drummers up to a ‘yeah finished’ point. I also threw some paint on the civilians.

My order from Old Glory Uk came and sadly it is wrong. My rangers haven’t arrived but another packet of woodland Indians have… I ordered the Indians in error but contacted them straight away to ask for a swap to the Rangers looks like they forgot. Harumph!

I also managed to get a shoe to the Finished point. Only nine to go.

This has a top and back seam to help turn it. 2mm upper and a 4mm sole. I have enough of the upper leather to make us all a pair (I hope) but unfortunately only enough of the thicker stuff to do one more pair.

Our exploration was sort of Viking based. With the dry weather Girlsta loch had dropped enough to allow us to head out onto the holm (an island not far from the far shore. Local legend has it that a Viking princess is buried there (as legends go, they are always princesses). The story goes she was skating on the loch and went through the ice, which was a bit unfortunate as the loch is one of, if not the deepest on Shetland sitting at 78 feet deep. Anyway after a bit of research we came across information in one of the Saga’s.

Geirhilda the daughter of the famous Flokie Vilgerdason was the young lady in question. Flokie had left Norway to find Iceland …it had been found accidentally twice before, but he was off to deliberately find it. He overwintered on Shetland when the accident happened. He then went off and found what he was looking for. He wasn’t that impressed and named it Iceland after seeing a bay filled with sea ice.

Now local legends also have, star crossed lovers, 🙄🤮. Her suitor was not accepted by her father and after a sneaky meeting with him she fell through the Ice and died. Strangely enough the saga doesn’t mention this, or ice or skating or anything really. It does say that “there Geirhild, his daughter, perished in Geirhild’s water.”

So there we have it … a legend and sort of evidence… Girlsta…Geirhild…there aren’t any other Girlsta’s up here so it could be a match.

Two Drummers Drumming

I was a bit busy off gallivanting yesterday

I did manage a bit of painting last night.

The second drummer is nearly up to the level of the first one. I must of had a shake doing his strap over the shoulder though. The first one needs a highlight on the flesh etc. Some of the dark blue and red also went onto some of the civilians.

Early on in the day we explored a broch in the north of the island. This was an Iron Age structure somewhat tumbled down after 2000 years of wind, rain and theft for building houses.

The base of the wall can be seen in the foreground, this would be heightened with peat. It is thought to be defensive, the site itself is sitting on an islet in a loch. The wall covers the causeway from side to side. You can see the causeway in this photo.

Further buildings are on the far side of the tower. You can just about make them out near the water’s edge.

This is the kind of size it would have been:

We also had a mooch about some crofting period click mills.

They were close to the edge of some of the tallest cliffs on Shetland.

This one has access to the sea through a subterranean tunnel. Well access if you don’t mind a 90m climb to the rocks below.

We found the grave with an interesting epitaph. We had heard about it but never seen it.

The afternoon was spent in one of the local shows where one of my daughter’s cockerel won third place in the bantam class.

All in all a very busy day!